Guest Blog from Hiscox

When we were approached by York Cares to take part in the Charity Business Review, my reaction was that I would love to be able to help a local charity in a more practical, hands-on way than I had done in the past. However, I really wasn’t sure what value or consultancy I could bring, but having voiced my concerns to York Cares I was assured that my background in IT and experience of working in a FTSE250 business meant there was much I could offer. She urged me to give it a go, and so I did.

At the introductory meeting, three charities gave presentations about their work and the barriers they were facing to achieving their goals. I quickly discovered that they were the entrepreneurs, passionate and pioneering. I was impressed and humbled in equal measure. I felt a particular affinity to the cause and struggles of York Community Stress Management and I was delighted to be accepted on the review team for this charity along with two others. As a team we had an initial chat there and then, swapped contact details and arranged a time and place to meet for a deeper discussion.

This charity consisted of one lady, Christina, working tirelessly to try and plug a gap in mental health care provision for those without the resources to pay for expensive therapy. Despite her impressive altruism, giving both her time and therapy skills, she faced considerable barriers in bringing this help to the people who need it and in being able to cover the costs of doing so.

When we met with her for our deep dive into the issues, there was no specific list of tasks to be divided up between us. Instead we sat and talked about what the issues were, and unpicked each one in turn. Everyone had something to offer, and it soon became clear that the support and different viewpoints of the group were something that had been missing for Christina. There were practical things we could do to help too; for my part I was able to do some work to illustrate how her website could work so much harder in raising her profile, at little or no cost.

After some email contact and a further meeting to review progress, we attended the wrap-up meeting with York Cares. At this session we heard from all the charities involved in the review, and learnt how they had benefited from the experience. It was clear that a lot had been achieved for all of them from a relatively small outlay of time on behalf of their new business associates. With regards to York Community Stress Management, it was fantastic to see Christina become a more confident communicator, knowing how to approach negotiation situations in a manner that ensured her voice was heard and her needs met. She has also gained three new supporters who will always be there to help and encourage her on her journey.

All in all, being involved in the Charity Business Review was an incredibly rewarding experience that I would recommend to anyone.

Vicky Foster, Senior Database Administrator at Hiscox.